Nothing spells clichéd journalism like a “second coming.” There’s no doubt in my mind that what will take place tonight in a weird little neighborhood in southeast Washington, DC will be a benchmark moment in the history of the Washington Nationals franchise, but it will also be wholly unsatisfying. Why? Sports journalists have already ruined it.
As I read countless Strasburg debut articles last night and this morning, they all spit out the same story over and over again: un-athletic kid comes from nowhere, shows up one day throwing 100 mph, then gets $15.1 million. The phenom is the “real deal,” loves his wife and hates the spotlight. He’s the next Walter Johnson (hell no) and half Barack Obama (I hope it’s the half that smokes!). It’s tired, it’s boring, and it’s been done. I guess there’s something to be said for the brick-brain who came up with “Merry Strasmas!” but I think that would be, “Please jump off a bridge.”
So before 45,000 “fans” sweat themselves silly tonight on the Green Line, Bill Plaschke will write about the 90 year-old retired scout, who in between hocks of Skoal will recount how he once saw Bob Feller unfurl a heater in 1946 that beat Triple Crown Winner Assault by a few furlongs, who says that Strasburg “can’t miss.”
What’s going to happen tonight, and hopefully for the next 15 years, is something that will be unique and different. God willing, it’s not going to be a canned story that comes straight out of a Bernard Malamud novel. To all the Jay Mariottis of the world, give it a rest. A guest spot on “Around the Horn” isn’t worth it.
And by the way, Strassy (see, I can make witty nicknames, too!) will go 5 1/3, give up 1 run on 4 hits, walk 2, strike out 7 and get the hook mid-inning so he can get the standing ovation. Tomorrow, I will stop reading newspapers for a month.